Aroldis Chapman feels “a lot better” after recent bout with shoulder fatigue

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Aroldis Chapman is currently getting a bit of a break due to a fatigued left shoulder, but he’s confident he’ll be blowing away opposing batters again real soon.

According to Christina De Nicola of MLB.com, Chapman said he felt “a lot better” after making 40 throws earlier today while playing long toss from a distance of 40-50 feet. He hopes to return “in a few more days.”

The Reds decided to shut Chapman down this week after he showed diminished velocity while walking three of the five batters he faced on Monday against the Pirates. This was one appearance after he blew a save against the Astros last Friday by giving up four hits, including a three-run homer to Matt Dominguez.

Chapman said he has dealt with fatigue multiple times in his career and chalks it up to a matter of conditioning.

“There’s a long season and sometimes you forget about continuing to do some exercises and you get fatigued,” Chapman said.

Chapman has an incredible 1.60 ERA and 119/20 K/BB ratio over 67 2/3 innings this season and is currently tied with Braves’ closer Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead with 35 saves. The Reds opened play tonight with an 11-game lead in the National League Central, so they have the luxury of resting him until he’s right.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.